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Neighbourhood guide to Potong Pasir: What’s it like to live around Leicester Drive, Singapore?

Considering moving to Potong Pasir? We chat to Pete, an insurance broker from Scotland, and Hana, an occupational therapist from Australia, to get the inside scoop on living in this neighbourhood of Singapore.

 


THE SPECIFICS

What street do you live on? 

Leicester Road, Potong Pasir.

What does it mean?

Potong Pasir means “cut sand” in Malay; they used to have sand quarries throughout the area

Exact words you tell a taxi driver to get home?

“Uncle! Poto Pasei, please!”

Closest MRT station?

Potong Pasir, North East (purple) line.

How long have you lived here?

Two years.

Why here?

It’s close to the MRT, and only a few stops away from Dhoby Ghaut. We also like that it’s a little quieter, there are no major malls (yet) and it has a very local feel.

 

 


THE SCENE

When you walk out of your place, the first thing you see is:  

The iconic triangular-shaped HDB blocks of Potong Pasir (kindly labelled as such in massive letters on the top of each building).

The closest store to your front door is: 

Ang Mo Supermarket – don’t let the name fool you, you can get all sorts of local goodies in here

Your street would make the perfect backdrop for a remake of:

A Singaporean version of Eastenders! It’s considered somewhat “rebel” territory as it was for many years the only area of Singapore under the Opposition; and the area under Block 147, where all the uncles gather around for a beer, is their version of the Queen Vic.

Your neighbours are great, but you wouldn’t mind a little less:

Hanging of underpants on the adjacent balcony.

The unofficial uniform of your street is:

A singlet, elasticated shorts, rubber flip flops and a bicycle.

If a celebrity moves in next door, it will most likely be:

Someone down to earth and with a sense of humour, like Billy Connolly.

When you’re in need of a dose of culture, you:

Chat to our favourite drinks uncle over a beer at our local coffee shop, overlooking the Hindu Temple across the street.

If you’re missing home, you:

Grab a McDonald’s – it’s the only thing in our neighbourhood that comes close to being similar at home.

A mandatory stop for out-of-town guests is:

Going to the local fruit stall when it’s durian season.

You’d swap houses in a second with:

Nobody, to be honest!

A common myth about your neighbourhood is:

It’s in some way “rebellious” because it was held by the opposition party until 2011. It’s anything but – the reason we like it is because it is so local and relatively under-developed (for the time being at least).

If you’re ever woken up at night, it’s almost always due to:

Neighbours drilling at odd hours.

A massive late-night rager on your street is likely to be:

Various local celebrations taking place in marquees set up in the field across the street for things like Chinese New Year, with blaring Chinese music and karaoke.

Get everything from T-shirts to Tim Tams at the 24-hour ABC shop
Get everything from T-shirts to Tim Tams at the 24-hour ABC shop


THE SUPERLATIVES

Your hands-down favourite neighbourhood joints are:

1. The local coffee shop. They do a great hor fun and mee sua soup; we’re suckers for hawker food.

2. The McDonald’s around the corner, which stays open 24 hours over the weekends. We’re familiar faces there in the early hours – you can’t beat a McSpicy after a night out!

3. The early morning markets around Block 147; they’re a sight to behold – not to mention the sounds and smells!

4. The knick-knack shop beside Ang Mo Supermarket; there isn’t anything that we haven’t been able to find in there. Literally.

5. The Sri Siva Durga Temple on Potong Pasir Avenue 2. Although it’s currently under construction, its gorgeous façade adds a lot of character and culture to the neighbourhood.

You won’t find better local food than at:  

The XO seafood stall in the coffee shop opposite the Hindu temple.

The strangest thing you’ve ever seen on your street is: 

A man that looked about a hundred years old riding a bicycle.

We love a good bargain. The best deals in your neighbourhood are: 

The 24-hour ABC shop, which prides itself on being the “cheapest shop in Singapore”, where you can buy anything from nail clippers and T-shirts to Pringles and Tim Tams.

The guiltiest pleasure in your area is: 

A roti prata for breakfast on a lazy weekend morning.

One thing you’d never change is: 

The local feel and absence of generic shopping malls; we feel like we are properly in Singapore.

But one thing you wouldn’t mind seeing go is: 

The construction sites popping up around the place, which no doubt signify the unfortunate arrival of our first mall.

The city gives you $5 million to soup up your street. You use it to: 

Close down the construction site that just replaced the field opposite us and bring back some greenery!

Why should your neighbourhood be featured in a guidebook?

Probably for being one of the few neighbourhoods left that don’t have a shopping mall and a cinema within walking distance. It’s a place where you can be alongside the locals, interacting over a beer and local food.

 

This story first appeared in Expat Living’s August 2015 issue.

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